Date: Sunday, June 19, 2022
Sunday is Juneteenth – a recent holiday commemorating Union Army General Gordan Granger issuing order # 3 on June 19, 1865, announcing the freedom of enslaved people in Texas. How can we possibly imagine what this means to black men and women held in bondage? On occasion I watch Finding Your Roots on PBS. Dr. Henry Louis Gates uncovers the family tree of celebrity guests. When the person is black the ancestry study can trace the family back generations and identify great, great, grandparents who were enslaved. This discovery is emotional and significant -- enabling guests to know their heritage and who they are today.
Awhile back parishioners in every parish in the Diocese including Annunciation were invited to take the Disciple Marker Index. As surveys go, we had a relatively high response rate. In the section on belief, 89% of our parishioners who responded agreed that Jesus died and rose again. 86% agreed that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ. These are foundational, core beliefs and mysteries of our Catholic Faith. They are inseparable. We believe Jesus died on the cross, was raised, and appeared to his disciples. We believe too that when Jesus, the Risen Lord, returns to the Father in heaven, he promises to be with us always especially in Holy Communion. The death and resurrection of Jesus (the Paschal mystery) and institution of the Eucharist are linked together!
We see this link clearly in our 2nd reading, the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. St. Paul “hands on” to the Church at Corinth what he “received from the Lord” that on the night Jesus is handed over he takes bread, gives thanks, breaks the bread, saying, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” Jesus directs his disciples, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.”
Jesus, knowing the end is near, says to his disciples, “I am the bread that will be broken. I am the wine that will be poured out.” Jesus says in the Gospel according to St. John, “No one take my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (Jn 10:18) The Eucharist, the “breaking of bread,” takes place on the “Lord’s Day” – the day of his resurrection. The Eucharist is an encounter with the Risen Lord. This is the way Jesus comes to us and is present to us.
I asked a parishioner why the “Body of Christ” is important to her. She replied, “I need to receive Jesus to become Christ for others.” Mother Teresa of Calcutta encouraged her Missionary Sisters of Charity to bring the same tenderness that they have for Jesus in Holy Communion to the poor and dying they care for on the streets. In both Holy Communion at Mass and in our compassionate care for others we are touching the Body of Christ. It is a great mystery. In faith, we pray, we say, “Amen.”